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Take the Q Train: Value Capture of Public Infrastructure Projects

Arpit Gupta, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, Constantine Kontokosta

NBER Working Paper No. 26789
Issued in February 2020, Revised in March 2020
NBER Program(s):Asset Pricing, Corporate Finance, Public Economics

Transit infrastructure is a critical asset for economic activity yet costly to build in dense urban environments. We measure the benefit of the Second Avenue Subway extension in New York City by analyzing local real estate prices which capitalize the benefits of transit spillovers. We find that price increase by 10%, creating $7 billion in new property value. Using cell phone ping data, we document substantial reductions in commuting time especially among subway users, offering a plausible mechanism for the price gains. Higher prices reflect both higher rents and lower risk. Infrastructure improvements thus lower the riskiness of real estate investments. Only 30% of the private value created by the subway is captured by local government through higher property tax revenue, and is insufficient to cover the cost of the subway. Targeted property tax increases may help capture more of the value created, and serve as a useful funding tool.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26789

 
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